The benefits of boarding

Posted on 18th Mar 2021 in School News, Prep Schools Guide, Boarding

Carl Bingham, Director of Boarding at Millfield Prep School, explains the opportunities and advantages

The benefits of boarding schools are boundless, offering children extensive opportunities for personal, social and academic growth.

Boarding school can be a brilliant option for families, allowing children a full and exciting school experience. Opting for a boarding school allows parents to choose the school which is best suited to their child’s interests, talents and needs, which may be further away from home than a daily commute allows.

The traditional and somewhat negative perceptions of boarding schools from old are far removed from the realities of life at a modern boarding school in 2021, where wellbeing, safeguarding and positive mental health are at the forefront for schools’ pastoral teams.

An exciting and busy school life

Full-time boarders stay at their school seven days a week, allowing them to enjoy all of the exciting opportunities that are part of life at boarding school. Millfield Prep School has a thriving community of boarding pupils between the ages of 7 to 13, 110 of whom board full time at the school, meaning that the school is a hive of activity seven days a week. On weekends, boarders have an exciting itinerary, with trips to local attractions such as ice-skating, tobogganing, surfing, paintballing, laser tag and quad biking.

They also make the most of the facilities at the school, with circus skills workshops, segway driving, scuba diving, neon discos, inflatable fun in the pool and lots more. Trips out include visits to theme parks, treetop climbing, the theatre and the cinema, to name a few.

Extended access to world-class facilities

Boarding means that the children can take advantage of all the opportunities on offer at school, particularly the co-curricular clubs and sports training which takes place early morning and after school, such as squad swimming, tennis, golf, riding and music practice. This extra access to the school’s facilities helps to create well-rounded pupils, with multiple interests and hobbies.

Millfield Prep’s outstanding sports facilities allow pupils to excel and we know it is one of the top reasons that parents choose us. Whether it’s swimming in our 25 metre indoor heated swimming pool, as well as using Millfield’s Olympic-size pool, playing golf on our on-site 9 hole golf course, honing skills on our putting green, playing on one of our cricket pitches or using the new state-of-the-art cricket centre at Millfield, or horse riding in our fantastic equestrian centre which features over 120 acres of hacking trails and a British Eventing cross-country course, we provide opportunities in a wide variety of fields.

More time for enrichment and activities

Living on the school site not only means that pupils are just minutes away from all their lessons and activities, but also eradicates time spent on school transport or parents driving back and forth. This extra time can be used to extend their academic study, take part in co-curricular activities, practise musical instruments or attend sports training.

All our pupils find the co-curricular activities on offer an enjoyable route to self-discovery. Hidden skills often come to light, and they gain a real sense of achievement. It is also great fun and an excellent way to make friends. Millfield Prep pupils can choose from over 70 different clubs, from Kit Car Club, Lego Modelling and Programming & Coding Club to Gardening, Speech & Drama and Sailing – there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Always someone to talk to

Around the clock pastoral care is a top priority for boarding schools and staff have a wealth of experience dealing with any challenges boarding pupils may face. At Millfield Prep, each boarding house is overseen by friendly Houseparents, Assistant Houseparents, Liasion Tutors and Matrons; there is always a responsible adult around to lend an ear. The School Chaplain also makes regular visits to the boarding houses with her Wellbeing Dog, Sir Nigel, for a chat and a refreshing dog walk for whoever needs it.

Celebration of diversity

A British education remains desirable worldwide, with independent schools seeing a healthy mix of cultures and nationalities. Boarding schools prepare children for the diverse world of work and life ahead of them, by exposing them to the mix of cultures, religions and backgrounds that many boarding school cohorts represent. At Millfield Prep, our international pupils and their cultures and traditions are both respected and celebrated, with the school celebrating events such as Chinese New Year and Diwali, as well as hosting an annual International Evening, which our pupils love.

Options for busy parents

There may be times when unexpected work, family or school commitments create logistical challenges, and flexi- and occasional-boarding options prove to be a great resource for busy families. Whether choosing a regular boarding slot a few days a week, or certain weeks of the school year, these options allow children to board at school, have help with their homework, take part in extra co-curricular clubs and spend some time enjoying in-house activities with their boarding friends.

Fosters lifelong friendships

Boarding is a great way for children to develop their social skills and interact with lots of people from different countries and cultures. Pupils often say that the best thing about boarding is spending time with their friends, and many make lifelong friends as they continue through senior school and beyond.

“Boarding helps our pupils to develop interpersonal skills such as tolerance, collaboration, empathy, independence, self-confidence and organisational skills,” says Millfield Prep Director of Boarding, Carl Bingham. “We believe boarding life at Millfield Prep should be an all-encompassing experience. It is not just about what you learn in the classroom, on the sports field or in the theatre, it’s also about feeling at home and making friends. We want our boarders to live a life full of opportunities in our safe and supportive environment.”

This article first appeared in John Catt's Preparatory Schools 2021, which you can view here: